If you are currently binge-watching the Netflix show Bridgerton, yes, that was an orchestral cover of Ariana Grande’s “Thank u, next” you heard. The soundtrack to Bridgerton,a Shonda Rhimes 1800s period piece filled with wealth, lust, and betrayal, is overseen by composer and musician Kris Bowers. Bowers worked with Alexandra Patsavas, who is responsible for the six pop covers scattered through the series. Patsavas told Parade “the choices and their respective placements are each very deliberate, and that the Grande and Swift covers specifically ‘were able to tell the musical story and amplify a female perspective.”
Kicking off the list is Grande’s “Thank u, Next” performed by the Vitamin String Quartet, or VSQ, in the first episode. The song aptly fits the scene on a surface level because leading lady Daphne’s older brother Anthony is swiping past every potential suitor at the grandiose ball. The song also fits on a deeper level and nods to the sexism of the era where young women would primp and preen to attract any potential suitors, fulfilling their sole purpose of finding a husband. The lens of the women of the show’s dependence on men is a big contrast to Grande’s celebration of self-love and freedom from her exes, and yet the juxtaposition was subtle enough to be effective. The first episode also sees a cover of Maroon 5’s “Girls Like You” by the VSQ.
VSQ is an American instrumental group started in 1999 known for covering pop hits for television. It created four of the six covers in the series and has credits on the Westworld soundtrack. VSQ’s rendition of “In My Blood” by Shawn Mendes is the backdrop of Daphne’s and Simon’s dance as an unofficial couple. In Episode 3, VSQ plays Billie Eilish’s “Bad Guy.” Next, is a cover of Celeste’s “Strange (ft. Hillary Smith)” by Kris Bowers himself.
Finally, is Taylor Swift’s “Wildest Dreams” covered by Duomo. The song comes during a romantic escapade and signals the intense passion of the couple but foreshadows future turbulence. Swift’s song tells the story of an intense but fleeting relationship. None of the covers have vocals, but people familiar with the tune will unconsciously carry over the emotional baggage of the song into the scene.
Hear more covers by VSQ here.